Pêches Cardinal

 Pêches Cardinal

(Compote of Fresh Peaches with Raspberry Purée)

(From "Mastering The Art Of French Cooking", volume one

For 10 people

(adjust as necessary for fewer servings)

6 cups water

2 1/4 cups granulated sugar

2 Tb vanilla exract or a vanilla bean

a 12-inch saucepan

10 firm ripe, unblemished fresh peaches, about 2 1/2 inches in diameter (I used white peaches)

a slotted spoon

a cake rack

a serving dish 2 inches deep

1 quart fresh raspberries, and 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

OR, 1 1/2 lbs. frozen raspberries, thawed and well drained, and

2/3 cup sugar

An electric blender (or electric beater)

optional: fresh mint leaves

Simmer the water, sugar and vanilla extract or bean in the saucepan and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the unpeeled peaches to the simmering syrup. Bring again to the simmer, then maintain at just below the simmer for eight minutes. Remove pan from heat and let peaches cool in syrup for 20 minutes. (Syrup may be used again for poaching other fruits.) Drain peaches on rack; peel while still warm, and arrange in serving dish. Chill.

Force the raspberries through a sieve and place the purée in the jar of an electric blender along with the sugar. Cover and blend at top speed for two to three minutes, or until purée is thick and sugar has dissolved completely. Chill. (Or beat purée and sugar for about 10 minutes with an electric beater.) (I put the raspberries and sugar in a saucepan and cooked them until the sugar melted, then pressed the mixture through a sieve to eliminate the seeds.)

When both purée and peaches are chilled, pour the purée over the peaches and return to refrigerator until serving time. Decorate with optional fresh mint leaves.